On Form: Longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year

On Form: Longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year

by Mike Brearley


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What is being on form? How does it relate to feeling 'in the zone'?

Are these states in the lap of the gods, a matter of which side of the bed we got out of that morning? Or is there anything we can do to make their arrival more likely?

In this fascinating book, former England cricket captain and psychoanalyst Mike Brearley examines many of the elements of being in and out of form across a number of different disciplines - not only in cricket and psychoanalysis but also in finance, music, philosophy, medicine, teaching, tree surgery and drama.

Drawing on his own experiences, both on and off the field, Brearley describes various states of mind, from the conscious determination involved in training and practice through to that almost spiritual state of being 'inspired'. To achieve any level of form requires us to be able to hold different tensions in mind, and to tolerate both ambivalence and ambiguity. Neither form nor creativity can be guaranteed - Brearley illustrates in depth the frequent ways we lose form - though understanding, in a full sense, enables us to make drastic loss of form less likely.

Perceptive and engaging, On Form is an exploration of the benefits and risks of being on form and can help us all reflect on the range of conditions that block or liberate us.


'A work of real substance, valued for its practicality and its precision as well as its balanced humanity and insight' Hilary Mantel

'The best book on captaincy, written by an expert' Mike Atherton

'A subtle, wise book' Ed Smith

'The man-management skills demonstrated by Brearley's handling of Ian Botham remain an inspiration' Nasser Hussain

' The Art of Captaincy was, and is, an outstanding book. I would add only three words which I always bear in mind. Keep it simple' Richie Benaud

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781408707357
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Pages: 416
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Mike Brearley OBE was educated at Cambridge, where he read classics and moral sciences, and captained the university. He played for Middlesex County Cricket Club intermittently from 1961 to 1983, captaining the side from 1971 to 1982. He first played for England in 1976 and captained the side from 1977 to 1980, winning seventeen test matches and losing only four. He was recalled to the captaincy in 1981 for the Ashes home series, leading England to one of their most famous victories. Since retiring from cricket in 1982, he trained and continues to work as a psychoanalyst, and is a lecturer on leadership and motivation. He is the author of the bestselling The Art of Captaincy, and has written on cricket and the psychology of sport for the Observer and most recently The Times. He lives in London.

Table of Contents

Note at the start viii

Part I In and Out of Form

1 Getting Out of Bed on the Wrong Side 1

2 Zen and the Art of Batting 13

3 On to the Couch 23

Part II In the Zone

4 A Kind of Rapture 34

5 Who Cleans Up After the Party? 48

6 Disencumbering Consciousness 61

Part III Technique and Character

7 Practising Your Scales 71

8 'You Idiot, Rags!' - Talking to Oneself 88

9 'We Let Our Cricket Do the Talking' 107

Part IV The Team

10 The Making of a Team 117

11 Why Sport? 136

Part V Surgeons, Directors, and Canoeists

12 Seeing the Wood and the Trees 161

13 A Tiny Mistake in the Blink of an Eye 188

Part VI And Now for Something Completely Different

14 Freudian Slip 197

Part VII The Centre Cannot Hold

15 Horse or Snaffle? 215

16 Fear of Failure 229

17 Fear of Success 239

18 Once-born, Twice-born 252

19 Masks and Costumes 268

Part VIII Radical Change

20 Doing the Needful 281

21 Can Quick Fixes Stick? 296

22 The Hardest Thing of All 315

23 At Least Buy a Ticket 330

Part IX Dispatches

24 The Chickadee Bird 340

25 How Do I Know What I Think Until I Read What I Write 356

26 Ithaka 369

Selected Bibliography 384

Acknowledgements 395

Picture and text credits 399

Index 400

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